Yet they have not always been enemies. Indeed, for centuries Jews thrived in an Arab civilization.
Shortly after the death of Muhammad in A.D. 632, Arabs began conquering vast tracts of the known world. Soon they possessed North Africa, Arabia, Palestine, Persia, Sicily, southern Italy and much of Turkey and Spain. For the next few centuries, Arab civilization was considerably more advanced than its European counterpart.
Bertrand Russell described the way the Jews flourished under the Arabs in his book History of Western Philosophy. After describing the persecution of Jews in Christian Europe, and the corresponding lack of Jewish cultural contributions, Russell continued: “In Mohammedan countries, on the contrary, Jews at most times were not in any way ill treated. Especially in Moorish Spain, they contributed to learning… [Then, when] the Christians reconquered Spain, it was largely the Jews who transmitted to them the learning of the Moors. Learned Jews, who knew Hebrew, Greek and Arabic, and were acquainted with the philosophy of Aristotle, imparted their knowledge to less learned schoolmen” (1969, p. 324).
Europe’s rediscovery, by Arabs and Jews, of many Greek texts led eventually to the Renaissance and the rise of European culture. Today Europeans, Arabs and Jews could gain much from cooperation. Sadly, crusades, persecutions and jihads have been all too common in their history.
Nevertheless, in the coming reign of the Messiah, the Christ, the descendants of all three groups will learn to flourish in cooperation and peace.